February 28, 2020 / 3:37 PM / in a month

Soccer-Players union pushes IFAB for changes to concussion rules

BELFAST, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Football’s rule-making body IFAB is being urged by the players’ union to introduce a 10-minute concussion evaluation period, with temporary substitutes, to allow players to receive better care for head injuries.

IFAB (International Football Association Board) is meeting on Saturday to discuss a range of issues relating to the laws of the game and will hear from an expert study group on concussions set up by IFAB to examine the issue and discuss possible changes.

One proposal the group discussed was for substitutions for concussions not to count against the total of three currently allowed for each team in a 90-minute game.

But FIFPRO, the international players union, is pushing for a wider change where a player can be taken to the dressing room for a 10-minute evaluation, rather than the current three-minute sideline check, with a temporary substitute able to take their place.

FIFPRO says the 10-minute rule would allow evaluation to take place without rushing the process and says it also wants the tests to have an independent doctor involved.

Erin Clout, a former player in Australia’s women’s league who now works for Australia’s Professional Footballers Association, had her career ended early by concussion and believes better immediate evaluation would have helped her significantly.

“It could have changed my life,” said Clout, who says she is still suffering from dizziness, headaches and heavy fatigue following a concussion sustained during a match in August 2019.

Clout says nobody assessed whether she showed symptoms of a concussion after a ball had hit her head from close range in the 40th minute. She played out the remainder of the match.

“It is vital that there is enough time in a dressing room for medical staff to make a thorough assessment if a player has a concussion, and for players to honestly evaluate how they feel,” Clout said.

“It is really difficult to make that call when you are on the pitch surrounded by people telling you to continue.”

Clout said her problems from concussion have not gone away and have impacted her daily life.

“This goes beyond football. This is about life, about being able to enjoy relationships with family and friends, about being able to work or play sports,” said Clout. Former United States international striker Taylor Twellman, who has been campaigning on the issue for several years through his ‘Think Taylor’ organisation, says he supports the FIFPRO plan.

“I’m behind 10-minute sub and have helped it get to this point,” Twellman told Reuters.

“Every neurologist and other expert says 10 minutes allows them and the athlete to make the most educated decision,” he said. (Reporting by Simon Evans Editing by Toby Davis)

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